Hong Kong – The Hong Kong (HKSAR) Government announced yesterday (July 25) the implementation of Hong Kong and Mainland customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) procedures (clearance procedures) at the West Kowloon Station (WKS) of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL).
The 26-km Hong Kong Section of the XRL will connect Hong Kong to the continuously expanding national high-speed rail network, substantially reducing the rail travelling time between Hong Kong and various major Mainland cities.
“As at end-June this year, the construction works of the Hong Kong Section of the XRL were about 95 per cent complete. Train testing and trial runs, as well as preparation for the operation stage, are underway. Our target is to commission services in the third quarter of 2018,” said Mr Chan, Secretary for Transport and Housing.
He continued to say that the implementation of the co-location arrangement means that passengers can complete clearance procedures of both Hong Kong and the Mainland at the WKS in one go. Passengers departing from Hong Kong can go to all cities on the national high-speed rail network without having to undergo clearance procedures again on the Mainland. On the other hand, passengers coming to Hong Kong can freely board trains at any station on the national high-speed rail network, and go through Mainland departure clearance and Hong Kong arrival clearance at the WKS. They will not be constrained by whether a particular Mainland city has clearance facilities. Without a co-location arrangement, passengers might only board or alight at Mainland stations equipped with clearance facilities.
“If a co-location arrangement was not implemented, the efficiency and flexibility offered by the XRL will be hampered. As such, a co-location arrangement is critical to fully unleash benefits of the XRL project”, said Mr Chan.
The HKSAR Government and the relevant Mainland authorities conducted detailed study on the co-location arrangement to ensure that it should comply with the Basic Law; have to be feasible and effective from the operational perspective; and be able to manage security risk robustly. With reference to the case of the Shenzhen Bay Port, the HKSAR Government and the relevant central authorities recommended adopting a “Three-step Process” in implementing the co-location arrangement at the WKS of the XRL. The three steps may be summarised as follows –
Step One: The Mainland and the HKSAR are to reach a Co-operation Arrangement in relation to the implementation of the co-location arrangement;
Step Two: The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress approves and endorses the Co-operation Arrangement by making a Decision; and
Step Three: Both sides implement the arrangement pursuant to their respective procedures. Local legislation will be necessary for the case of Hong Kong.